Lot 571: Near-complete collection of 129 unflown sterling silver Space Shuttle Robbins medals from the collection of Apollo astronaut Walter Cunningham, consisting of medals from all missions except STS-1, STS-7, STS-9, STS-41B, and STS-51D. The collection includes the sought-after restruck medallions for the tragic STS-51L and STS-107 missions. Among the other highlights are: the earlier missions, such as STS-2, STS-3, STS-4, STS-5, and STS-6; the rarest Shuttle Robbins medal, STS-111, with only 94 produced; and notable missions such as STS-71, the first docking of a shuttle to a space station. The medals typically measure about 1.5'' in diameter and feature raised mission insignia designs on the face with the launch and return dates engraved on the reverse. Serial numbers are engraved on the edges up to STS-120; after that, the Astronaut Office no longer engraved serial numbers on the medallions, and the numbers are only shown on labels affixed to each case. All are in their original cases; a few cases are cracked. Condition is generally mint state. A complete list of the 129 Robbins medals and their corresponding serial numbers is available online at RRAuction.com. A stunning collection of Robbins medals rarely offered in such great quantity and enhanced by its superior provenance.
Walter Cunningham joined NASA with the Group 3 astronauts in 1963 and made history in 1968 as the Lunar Module Pilot on Apollo 7. This was not only the first successful manned mission of the Apollo program-a brave undertaking given the disastrous Apollo 1 test of a year earlier-but was the first mission associated with the Robbins medal tradition. It was actually Cunningham who took the lead in having the medallions first created. Desirous of a memento of the flight, he sketched out a version of the mission insignia and took it to a local Cape Canaveral jeweler to have a commemorative medallion made. The jeweler introduced him to the Robbins Company, who specialized in medals and medallions, and Cunningham worked in concert with them to create the first Robbins medals. These proved so popular among his fellow astronauts that the crews of every manned NASA spaceflight since then have had Robbins medallions struck to commemorate their missions. Originating from Cunningham himself, these Space Shuttle Robbins medallions are not only rare but represent the legacy of the famous NASA collectible he established.
RR Auction's Fine Autographs & Artifacts
Friday, 23rd October 2015
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